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75th anniversary of Channel Dash heroes commemorated

10 February 2017
The gallant actions of naval aviators 75 years ago in The Channel Dash were commemorated yesterday at the Fleet Air Arm Memorial Church in Yeovilton.

A flypast of four Wildcat helicopters, 825 Naval Air Squadron’s 21st century successor to the Swordfish biplane seen in the skies 75 years ago, helped mark this commemorative occasion.

Commanding Officer of 825 NAS Commander Simon Collins said, “I am delighted that we are able to mark this significant anniversary today in such a fitting manner, to remember the bravery and sacrifice of our forbearers in 825 Naval Air Squadron.  

“Not only is it an opportunity for us to remember but also to share our current Squadron experiences with such a wide and varied range of guests.

“825 NAS is at the forefront of the future of the FAA as it delivers Frontline flights to operations and trains all Wildcat aircrew and engineers; this will be our next legacy.”

The ‘Channel Dash’, is one of the most daring and courageous actions in the history of naval aviation, when 18 naval aviators of 825 Naval Air Squadron, flying six Swordfish bi-planes demonstrated unsurpassed bravery in an attack on the might of the German Battle Fleet in the English Channel.

Royal Navy history is rich in stories of actions that have been taken in the full knowledge that the 'ultimate sacrifice' was inevitable

Admiral The Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL, Patron of the Channel Dash Association

The Service was attended Admiral The Lord Boyce KG GCB OBE DL and Dan Snow.

Lord Boyce said, "Royal Navy history is rich in stories of actions that have been taken in the full knowledge that the 'ultimate sacrifice' was inevitable.

“There can be no better example of this than that Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde of Fleet Air Arm 825 Squadron who, 75 years ago, lead six Swordfish against the heavily defended and powerful German flotilla making its Channel Dash on 12th February 1941 – knowing as they closed the enemy that their annihilation was certain.  

“We rightly honour his name and those of the other seventeen Swordfish aircrew, only five of whom survived, with humility and awe.”

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